Arts and Culture
9:00 am
Mon December 23, 2013

One family preseves the legacy of an African American town in Missouri [video]

Virginia Houston, 68, walks down a gravel road to the last building still standing in Pennytown, Mo., Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013. Freed slave Joe Penny started the town in 1875. Houston works to preserve the town’s rich history.
Credit KBIA

Located eight miles outside of Marshall, Mo., is a church that is all that remains of Pennytown. Started by a freed slave in 1871, Pennytown was one of the only predominantly African American towns in mid-Missouri in the 20th century.  

Through out the years, Virginia Houston and other descendants have strived to keep up with the history of Pennytown by preserving what is left. Her mother began collecting historical artifacts belonging to Pennytown descendants. This work started after she got in trouble one day at school and was assigned to interview members of the community. That sparked an interest in the history of Pennytown and her family. Inspired by her mother, Houston kept up with the genealogy after her mother's death in 1992. The goal is to pass this on to younger generations so it is not forgotten. 

‘The Ties That Bind …’ is a four-part video series that tries to open a window into what the lives of the elderly in small Missouri communities.

Our goal is to acquaint others with these characters in hopes of raising awareness about rural people, life, activities and roles.

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